Economic Opportunity IFCs for 5/21 Council Meeting

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Greg Casar
Posts: 134
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:20 pm

Economic Opportunity IFCs for 5/21 Council Meeting

Post by Greg Casar » Fri May 15, 2015 6:44 pm

Dear colleagues,

I am writing to offer some background on the items I have sponsored on our 5/21 Council Meeting Agenda. I look forward to discussing these with you more at our work session on Tuesday.

All of us are interested in how we can make sure Austin’s prosperity is shared across our communities. Item #23 and Item #25 are important steps towards creating economic opportunity for more people in Austin, and I hope you’ll support them.

Item #23 asks Council to approve a resolution asking the City Manager to consider including an increase in the City’s minimum wage for City employees in the FY2015-2016 budget and future budgets. The resolution posted in the Draft Agenda contains a drafting error, for which I apologize. To clarify, this resolution does not stipulate what the minimum wage should be for city employees, nor will it immediately direct the City Manager to raise the minimum wage. Rather, this resolution is intended to inform our City Manager that this is a discussion Council wants to have when the recommended budget is brought to us. Please see the memo from Interim Assistant City Manager Mark Washington, included as back-up on this item, detailing recommendations of the Living Wage Stakeholder Group. I think we all want to make sure we keep our lowest-wage employees in mind when we create our City budget, so I hope that Council will choose to inform the City Manager this Thursday that this is our priority. I want to thank my co-sponsors Mayor Adler and Council Members Houston and Pool for their support.

Item #25 asks Council to approve a resolution directing the City Manager to convene a working group to develop recommendations related to the use of conviction history in hiring by private employers in Austin (known as “fair chance” hiring practices). “Fair chance” practices include removing the conviction history question on job applications and delaying conviction history background checks until later in the hiring process. This item would create a stakeholder process to study laws that protect individuals who are often discriminated against in employment. Such rules, if Council chooses to enact them, would not bar employers from running a criminal background check, but rather ensure that job seekers have a fair chance to in the application process. “Fair chance” policies for private employers have become law in six states and 25 cities. In 2008, our own City passed “fair chance” policies for our City employees. “Fair chance” rules are anti-discriminatory at heart and a small piece of creating opportunities for employment for folks who too often aren’t given a fair shot when they apply for jobs. Thank you to Mayor Adler, Mayor Pro Tem Tovo and Council Member Houston for co-sponsoring this item.

I am also offering Item #24 related to animal services to promote the health and safety of the animals at the animal shelter. We have all heard from animal center volunteers that dogs aren’t being let out of their cages often enough to ensure their health. Short term, I want the city manager to know this is a priority of our Council. Longer term, I would like our Health and Human Services Committee to consider policies that could address this issue.

Gregorio "Greg" Casar
Council Member District 4